Here's Why Black Girls On TikTok Are Entering A Soft-Girl Era

We may receive a commission on purchases made from links.

In the wake of a mental health awareness resurgence and a return to heart-centered spaces, Black women are once again taking back and redefining their identities. Despite being major contributors to American culture at large, Black women have been misrepresented and fetishized in the media, juxtaposed next to images of violence, aggressiveness, and hyper-sexualization. Luckily, a renaissance is emerging in media thanks to writers like Shonda Rhimes, creator of the Netflix series "Bridgerton," which showcases women of color at tea parties and adorned in soft floral dresses. Likewise, media culture is being democratized with micro-influencers and everyday people stepping into the spotlight as trend creators and culture resetters.

While self-care continues to rise in importance, Black creators on TikTok have simultaneously created another avenue: soft girl culture. Created in one aspect as a dreamy, plant-filled palette cleanser, influencers stepping into their soft-girl eras are also silently combating harmful Black stereotypes. Their soft yet powerful content is both beautiful and healing, and here's what it entails.

Black creators are redefining femininity

Upon first search, the soft-girl trend appears similar to the cottage core lifestyle, evoking floral dresses and anime-style decor, but those truly living the lifestyle say it's so much more than that. The #softgirlera hashtag, which now has over 18 million uses on Tiktok, started as a rebellion against a "hard life" or feelings of struggle, lack, and conflict. It implies a soft femininity that isn't weak but rather flourishes in contentment and relaxation.

Though more than just Black girls are partaking in the soft-girl lifestyle, Black women especially are vocalizing how decidedly stepping into this new era feels new to them, having to previously live in fight or flight mode. More than just video content of matcha lattes, sunlight reading rooms, and claw hair clips, the soft-girl era beckons women to step out of masculinity and relax in peace. For instance, influencer Naya A. Ford jokes frequently on Tiktok about how her soft-girl awareness stems from a relinquishing of toxic aggressiveness and entering divine feminine energy. Like others, she claims the new era of peace has led to a new perspective of the self that has healed a prior need to control herself and others.

The soft-girl era is more than just a lifestyle

Soft-girl culture has tremendous implications for the mental health of Black women in the media, whether the creators behind the aesthetics are aware of it or not. For centuries, Black women have been depicted as aggressive, masculine, and angry. The trope of the "angry Black woman" is an image deeply rooted in American culture, according to Rutgers University history professor Deborah Gray White, who, in her book "Ar'n't I a Woman?: Female Slaves in the Plantation South," claims the stereotype stems from chattel slavery. 

Though Black women are some of the most educated groups of women in America, per the National Center for Education Statistics, they consistently battle ancient stereotypes that depict us as hostile, belligerent, or, as is often thrown around, ghetto. It should also be said that images of Black women drinking coffee and reading books are not new. Black women have been prioritizing slow living for ages, but now a new generation is making sure more eyes can see it.

So, while many content creators are practicing self-awareness and stepping into new ideals of serenity, harmony, and fulfillment for the sake of their own mental health, many are sparking new images of Black women the media has previously never seen before. They have decided that soft is still powerful — and that peace is the ultimate aesthetic.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.